Letter: Blue Zones Project is questionable

To the Editors:

I’ve been looking into the Blue Zones Project as a scientist, and was surprised that they have not published any technical papers on their work nor subjected it to peer review. Journalist Dan Buettner is the chief spokesman, but is not a scientist, and from what I and my colleagues can tell, this is simply correlation without any causation, or the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

More to the point, Buettner licensed the Blue Zone trademark to Healthways of Tennessee, where it is a profit-making entity. Two towns in Iowa dropped out because it was so expensive, although their fees are “confidential.”

Professor Eric Carter of Macalester College has called it a “Place-based, community centered and commercial health promotion enterprise,” deeply neoliberal, and notes that it more or less ignores health problems associated with poverty, unemployment, race, ethnicity, education or other social determinants. It also has no relationship with any about the health care sector: doctors, clinics, and hospitals. It concentrates on health promotion and lifestyle management.

And, I fear that their plans for “walkability” will not fit well in our rocky, hilly town, where additional sidewalks would be terribly expensive.

Overall, I think we can do better in Wilton encouraging better eating habits and exercise without getting involved with these people.
James Cooper
Wilton, Oct. 22